East Meets West
The idea of doing an issue entitled East Meets West began as an excuse to write about our favorite new East Asian filmmakers, that batch of preternaturally gifted artists who have been flowing out of that “other” corner of the globe for the past decade.
To make the idea of a national cinema compelling, audiences need a body in which to locate the quirks and idiosyncrasies of that nation’s filmmaking—services that Ingmar Bergman, Abbas Kiarostami, and Akira Kurosawa each performed in their time.
Because of its prefacing epigram, Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Café Lumiere has drawn a barrage of comparisons to Yasujiro Ozu. Hou dedicated his film to the occasion of Ozu’s birth centenary, but upon further reflection, it seems like a ploy to shut the public up.
The contemplation of the lonely life is hardly new in cinema, where it has been the shorthand for psychological depth in every genre from film noir to the romantic comedy to the epic biopic, and certainly not in the novel, where solitary confinement is practically a cottage industry.